Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lawyer: Poll deferral illegal

MEMBERS of parliament cannot defer the 2012 general election, a constitutional lawyer says, The National reports.
 Dr John Nonggorr said only the Electoral Commission could decide on any change in the election timetable.
“MPs will not have the mandate to be legislators even a day beyond the five-year term,” he stated.
“Any attempt to do this will be undemocratic.”
He pointed out that the election must be held not a day later than the fifth anniversary of the return of writs.
Nonggorr also warned that any confidence in the election process would be eroded if MPs with self-interests make decisions which benefited them directly.
He also suggested that the proposal to use technology such as bio-metrics would eventually prove detrimental to the integrity of the election if the people have no confidence in the process.
He said the danger inherent in the use of the technology was for politicians and their cronies to make millions of kina.
“Technology will also be used to manipulate the election results to their benefit unless there is sufficient preparation and ample skills and experience to thwart those with evil intent.”
The Australian High Commission said there was no capacity to introduce the bio-metrics system, saying it would take up to five years to establish it properly.
Nonggorr supported keeping Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen as it was too close to the election to make any changes, as suggested in some circles of government.
A government lawyer said the only way parliament could defer the election was if there was a state of emergency occasioned by a war.
“At present, there are no conditions present in PNG to declare a war and, therefore, there cannot be a state of emergency,” he said.
“Elections can, therefore, not legally be deferred.

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